TAMPA, Fla. -- John McKay, a star at Oregon in the late
1940s who coached Southern California to four national football
championships before becoming the first coach of the Tampa Bay
Buccaneers, died Sunday. He was 77.
McKay, who had been in the intensive care unit at St. Joseph's
Hospital since last month, died at of kidney failure due to
complications from diabetes, said Bucs spokesman Reggie Roberts.
McKay, who would have turned 78 on July 5, was by far the most
colorful coach in Bucs history. In addition to a reputation for
being innovative and having an eye for talent, he was well known
for spicing up news conferences with quips and biting humor.
The Bucs lost their first 26 games under McKay, an NFL record,
before rebounding to become the first expansion team to make it to
a conference title game within it first four seasons in 1979.
In all, Tampa Bay made three playoff appearances and McKay
compiled a 44-88-1 record before retiring after his ninth season in
1984. He remained the winningest coach in team history until Tony
Dungy -- the only Bucs coach with a winning record -- surpassed him
The Bucs lost 9-0 to the Los Angeles Rams in the 1979 NFC
championship game and the team didn't win another post-season game
under the Dungy-led Bucs beat Detroit in a first-round game in
1997. Tampa Bay got back to the conference final under Dungy in
1999, but lost 11-6 to the St. Louis Rams.
McKay's son Rich is the general manager of that team and has
overseen the rebuilding process. Another son, J.K. McKay, played in
the NFL and was general manager of the Los Angeles team that won
the only XFL championship this season.
A native of Everettsville, W.Va., McKay enrolled at Purdue after
serving in the Army Air Corps in World War II. He transferred to
Oregon and teamed with Norm Van Brocklin to helped the Ducks go 9-1
in 1948 and earna trip to the Cotton Bowl.
He began his coaching career as an assistant at Oregon, turning
down offers to go to work for the FBI or play pro ball for the New
York Yankees of the All-American Football Conference in 1950.
McKay moved to Southern California as an assistant in 1959 and
became head coach when Don Clark retired a year later. The Trojans
went unbeaten and won the first of their national titles under
McKay in the coach's third season.
Southern Cal went 127-40-8, won nine Pac-8 championships and
only lost 17 conference games in 16 years under McKay. He coached
40 All-Americans at the Los Angeles school, including Heisman
winners Mike Garrett and O.J. Simpson, quarterbacks Pat Haden and
Bill Nelson, fullback Sam Cunningham, offensive linemen Ron Yary
and Marvin Powell and receivers Lynn Swann, Bob Chandler and Earl
The Trojans became known for outstanding tailbacks with Garrett,
Simpson, Clarence Davis, Anthony Davis and Ricky Bell all
flourishing in the I-formation system that McKay perfected in the
Besides 1962, Southern Cal won national titles in 1967, 1972 and
1974. The Trojans also won five Rose Bowls and finished first or
second in the Pac-8 13 times.
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